Reuters / Brasilia
Indigenous activists delivered a Jatoba tree to Norway’s embassy in Brasilia on Tuesday, seeking “refugee” status for it in a symbolic protest against the destruction of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.
The protest coincided with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at the United Nations General Assembly defending what he described as his government’s fight against deforestation of the rainforest.
The protest was staged by an indigenous umbrella organisation, the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB).
The Jatoba, sometimes referred to as Brazilian Cherry due to its burgundy-coloured hardwood, grows in the Amazon and other biomes of South America.
The sap of the tall canopy tree is used for medicinal purposes by indigenous people.
APIB leader Sonia Guajajara pleaded for help to save the tree and the Amazon rainforest, saying that Norway is the only country that has forbidden deforestation.
“Today the Amazon has become a war zone; 90% of the deforestation is illegal,” she said, calling for a boycott of products that contribute to deforestation in Brazil.
Bolsonaro, who has pushed to open more of the Amazon rainforest to mining and agriculture, has been criticised for increased deforestation under his government.
At the United Nations, he said that Brazil’s environmental laws are a model for the world and promised to end illegal deforestation, although environmental groups met his speech with scepticism.
The Norwegian embassy in Brasilia opened its gates to the protesters’ truck and the Jatoba tree was planted on embassy grounds.
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